The new breed of atheist, whom I find scattered around the blogosphere are not living up to the fine traditions of old. Or so it seems to me.
I follow a few such blogs, and often link to others they suggest as “particularly” good, and most of the time, I see the same failures.
I once considered myself one of them, though I was never so arrogant to proclaim a belief that God did not exist. I found it sufficient to say I simply had no clue, and was not persuaded that there was proof either way.
I have seen many an educated atheist dialogue with believers on shows on PBS and been favorably impressed with the level or argument. Yet, today, I find this new breed, this rough uneducated, simplistic crowd, who bother not to actually think, but only to spout a lot of meaningless jargon, passing it off as “well, I destroyed that Christian myth,” dusting off their hands and moving on to another target.
Many proclaim that James Loftus is an example of one of the better atheist apologists around today. Yet, his blog seems mostly filled with self-promotion of his contribution to a new atheist book (one directed interestingly enough at “evangelical Christianity” only), or in asking his readers to once again validate his efforts at debate–his last foray was not a good time, because his opponent “cheated” by cutting him off and controlling the discussion.
Ken Pulliam, actually entitles his blog “Why I Deconverted from Evangelical Christianity.”
The BEattitude, which we long ago abandoned as too juvenile for adult discussion, tends to rehash the obvious errors within the biblical texts, as if this is not known and understood by all but the hard core fundamentalist.
I of course can understand their choice of foe. It’s easy, requiring little education, smarts or thinking to derail the obviously irrational thinking of most fundamentalist positions. They are against the great weight of the evidence as we used to say in law. And I must say, at least it’s honest. They are being clear, they are not taking on Christianity per se, only the type that we all oppose, whether it be Christian or Muslim, Judaic, or frankly Hindu. Fundamentalism is the same in every faith tradition–and it’s dangers and irrationalities are well known and documented.
Thus, believers can agree with most of these young atheists on much of what they say.
Yet, there is much that must be snickered at, and indeed, I come away shaking my head, at the similar tendency to be so arrogantly sure of one’s position. I cannot recall who said it, but it seems quite true, that some atheists at least have a god that is every bit as important to them as the one believers adhere to. Indeed these new breed atheists have the arrogance to place humans at the top of the heap as the greatest creator of all. All that is, is the result of human hands and minds. Now that’s some chutzpah I’d say.
This post struck me as interesting. VJack at Atheist Revolution, posits whether there is such a thing as rational Christianity. Now, setting aside the pure arrogance of such a thing on its face, lets dig deeper. He tells us that “we all know that faith is inherently irrational.”
Do we now? Care to prove that point? Care to even explain on what you base it? Are you suggesting that thousands of great minds across the ages have been men and women of faith, and are irrational? Was Aquinas irrational? Was Gandhi? Is Desmond Tutu? Aristotle? Have you done the hard work to even attempt to understand the minds of such greats as Rahner, Bonhoeffer, Barth, Gutierrez, MacQuarrie, Moltmann, Sobrino, Boff, de Chardin, to name but a few?
Without a breath, he moves on then and wonders is it possible to believe without faith? Can one have an intellectual belief in God? Surely this is true, but he seems to think not. I would consider that I came to my belief in exactly that way. That it was a more rational position than not. Faith for me came much later.
In full blown arrogance he continues:
What if a Christian genuinely (albeit mistakenly) believed that he or she had sufficient evidence of some sort of god? This person would be wrong, but would it at least be possible to imagine such a form of Christianity that was entirely void of faith?
Note the “albeit mistakenly.” Exactly by what means can you prove conclusively that there is no God Mr. VJack? You may believe by faith in humanity that there is no God, but you cannot prove conclusively that anyone’s conclusion that there is is by definition wrong. Time to climb from the high horse.
And for whomever said it a week or so ago. Yes, faith includes doubt, not as you claimed, that it was anathema to faith. The bible says as much on that point, reflecting that people of faith have always struggled with doubt. Read John of the Cross if you remain doubtful on this point. Or any mystic for that matter.
And pray tell us, what is with the rather well known image you attached?
What has this to do with a supposedly rational discussion on the issue of faith? A creationist cartoon hardly has a thing to do with whether there can be a rational basis for belief in a higher power than mankind.
It’s but another cheap assault, which not only weakens an already weak argument, it reminds us once again, that for most atheists it seems nowadays, the only form of Christianity they are familiar with is fundamentalism.
That comes as no news to me, for I have said for a good while that fundamentalism does more to create non-believers than the other way around.
But please, dear atheist brothers and sisters, don’t sink to the common denominator. Come up in the more rarefied atmosphere of adult conversation. You need to read a bit about Christianity and stop using your childhood fundie learnings as your sole basis of argument. They are simply yawnable.
“Are you suggesting that thousands of great minds across the ages have been men and women of faith, and are irrational? Was Aquinas irrational? Was Gandhi? Is Desmond Tutu? Aristotle?”
In relation to their faith based opinions…yes.
You’re committing the fallacy of assuming that intelligence in one field (or even in general) translates to some sort of perfection or intelligence in all things. No one is perfect. And no matter how smart a person is, that doesn’t keep them from being irrational about any number of topics.
You don’t demonstrate the fallacy of my claim morsecode, you merely repeat the mantra–I have determined that faith is irrational, therefore all believers as to faith are irrational. Such is not correct syllogistically, nor rationally.
I do not assume that intelligence in one arena means intelligence in all, but I would argue that the same methodology of exploration is used by for any and all disciplines investigated. You cannot turn off the reasoning part of the mind just when it comes to faith.
‘Cause of course, famous deists like Voltaire, Paine, Newton and our own Tommy J. certainly can’t be considered “intellectuals.” Or, y’know “rational” in any way.
Well, I always say, both extremes (fundamentalists and atheists) come at it from the wrong angle anyway — i.e. that the written word is to be taken at face value.
I do notice that those of the Jewish faith are constantly studying and exploring the bible, talmud, and midrash. They’re also some of the most open-minded people I’ve ever met. Hmmm…
indeed Blisterina, they are more alike than they think. Both are prone to blanket all or nothing type declarations.
And many in the Jewish community find the practice of fundamentalists most distasteful. As Lewis Black said, we wrote, we interpret it. You are just wrong.
Mystical Seeker said:
“for most atheists it seems nowadays, the only form of Christianity they are familiar with is fundamentalism.”
Yes, that is pretty much true. Most of their arguments against religion presuppose fundamentalism, or at least conservative orthodoxy, as the standard against which “religion” is measured, so their arguments really aren’t against religion per se but against the straw man they have concocted to represent religious belief. I definitely agree that vJack illustrates the problem pretty well, although Loftus, PZ Myers, Larry Moran, and Mano Singham are militant atheist bloggers who all show similar sorts of attitudes.
By the way, the quote you cited illustrates another point, which is that most militant atheists of that sort always make a point of spelling God with a lower-case “g”. They are presumably trying to tweak or insult the faithful when they do that, but it mostly just makes them seem stupid. It probably also relates to their attempt to equate the concept of God to “a god” or “a being” and thereby dismiss it at irrational, suggesting that God is simply another being like any other but with invisibility and lots of superpowers. I repeatedly run across atheists who complain that theists believe in “a being” whose existence cannot be proved. This is a disingenuous characterization of religious faith in and of itself, and illustrates the point that most of these militant atheists are not interested in serious and honest dialogue. For the most part, their boorish behavior speaks for itself.
I have no problem with what they choose to believe without proof, but I cannot get beyond the need to be smarmily arrogant in doing so. They believe what they wish, I believe what I wish. Believe is the key word. They cannot prove their position except to cite that they are not required to prove a negative. Yes I agree, but that doesn’t make their conclusion necessarily right, only a rational CHOICE. But I would argue that belief is also a rational choice.
Here on the Internet, the conversation has fallen into mostly this snotty putting down of people of faith as illogical non-thinking creatures. Such is hardly the case, and it is supreme arrogance to suggest that literally billions of people are all wrong, and this little cypher of a group called atheists are the only rational folks. It’s a worship of the human species if I ever saw it.
“You cannot turn off the reasoning part of the mind just when it comes to faith.”
And yet, when I was a Catholic for so many years, that’s exactly what I did. I walled off my religious thoughts, never examined them critically, and only looked at them through the lens of faith while I thought critically about everything else.
You speak in absolutes about things you seem not to understand.
That is your failing morsecode. I too was Catholic and left because I felt the church wrong on a number of issues. You simply cannot suggest that all these great minds in history and in the present are victims of the same failure you personally experienced.
And in fact, I speak of no absolutes. I recognize that there are many different approaches. I would say atheists speak in absolutes when they suggest that all faith is irrational. Such is pure nonsense, and you have not yet proven otherwise. You fall into the trap of declaring in teh usual pejorative manner that I talk of things I don’t understand. You fail to answer questions put to you.
If you decided after critically examining your faith that it was worthless, then that is a personal conclusion, but it doesnt not mean that everyone who doesn’t come to the same conclusion is somehow without critical thinking skills. Moreover, it proves nothing as to whether they have examined their faith and found it on solid ground. Such can surely be said of every serious theologian who by profession is required to do just that, and surprisingly, most of them find their faith untainted.
Simply admit the truth, –your OPINION about faith is just that.
I usually stay out of ‘religious discussion’…. mostly out of a sense of politeness and openness. I would find a world in which everyone agreed with me as bleak and colorless. However I do feel compelled to say that you were spot-on……
‘Here on the Internet, the conversation has fallen into mostly this snotty putting down of people of faith as illogical non-thinking creatures.’
….. I could elaborate…. but I have a beer waiting…. the internet has proven to be an enabler for a lot of folks to say nasty things about all sorts of beliefs/convictions/faith/politics/whatever …. that they would never say face-to-face. It has been a hot topic during some of the discussions I have participated in.
Have a good day kiddo!
Jim, the intertubes are just full of crackpots it seems. As I pointed our recently, its danger lies in giving nut cases the idea that they might in fact not be nut cases. Unfortunately all discussion now is between the extremes. Those in the middle are apparently not interested enough to join in.
Indeed, OK, Beers UP first. One of my Favorite Online “Stars” is the aforementioned BeATTitudes (sic) in his WHY I LEFT CHRISTIANITY formerly famous Blog.
He is a classic Modern Reading Fundie Bible is Fill of ‘proving’ God is Hateful, Vengeful, hating of non-believers Problem Causer.
I Completelly Silenced BEATtidudes, by proving his reading of Bible is Opposite of Christian. I Disproved ALL their allegations.
One asked why God Created, doesn’t ‘cure’ Cancer. I pointed out Cancer is a Man -created CHEMICAL Caused problem; and We Allow More otheplaces Dangerous Chemicals than Any Other Country. Etc., Etc. Etc.
Silenced his Formerly BIG Blog, with Reality, Obvious GOD IS LOVE. God Never condemns Anyone; God is THE ONLY Judge of Us at our Death. No Verse, No one’s Preching, Reading Judges us; ONLY God Does at our Death.
You guys so Correct: All Leavers of Christianity are (1) Fundie Misreaders Direct modern English Misreading, or (2) People with Maor Misunderstandings About God/Bible/ their Own problems.
Ever tried THE ORIGINAL BEER, OK? Amazon Black Beer of the Natives, From the Amazon, finally Marketed buy a couple of American Women, Sherry.
Tony, glad you took down BEattitude a notch or two. I got totally frustrated with attempts to talk reasonably.
Atheists are not bad people, just rather misguided in what they know or perhaps don’t know. At least many of them. As I have said previously, I have found several quite thoughtful and capable of making some good points. It comes down in the end to belief–each is a valid conclusion based upon the lack of evidence.
On your great again cartoon, Sherry: As women know, ‘counting days’ is stipid; Human Bodies have their own Calendars.
Ribbers Break, chemicals don’t always work. The Only 100% Reliable Birth Control is No Intercourse during the Lady’s Fertility, which is determined by the Most Accurate Scientific Testing methds Taught by the Catholic method.
It happens to Focus on the Lady, and is the most Naturally Romantic for BOTH.
I guess the bigger point I wanted to make…… civility, politeness, tolerance….. seems to have slipped off the American Landscape….. as if manners ARE flat and we HAVE sailed to far and just went over the edge!
I really don’t care…. if someone believes in God …. or not. I truly don’t. Most days I KNOW that I don’t care!
and then there are days when the breeze tastes extremely sweet or I may be sitting under a tree and a memory flashes back to me with all the tang of a first bite of apple pie…… and I think to myself, “Well, I better be nice, just in case.”
well Jim, I tend to be the same way. I think its very personal, and darned if I know an effective way to bring someone along to faith. I think its so individual that all we can do is simply be our faith as best we can.
But actually one of the better arguments has always been–it’s a toss up, so the consequences should dictate the side you come down to. No God? no real consequence. A God and you have ignored? Possibly bad consequences (if you believe in hell that is.) But good consequence to be obtained–a more purposeful life? And one that is atuned to God? Much as Buddha found the solution to suffering–belief offers the same peaceful joy in living in uncertainty.
Randal Graves said:
Thou shalt have no gods before Cthulhu.
oh yeah? lol
When I was around 4 yrs old I believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and countless other fantasies children imagine.
I never believed in God, Yahweh, Allah, Jesus, etc, I was born a skeptic, an agnostic, an atheist as I got older, the latter for me was just an emphasized version of the former. I had no rational reason to believe in such a concept even though most people I knew, including my family, did.
As a 4 yr old, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy “were real” to me, I’d no reason to think otherwise. Me and my brother would leave milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve, the next morning Santa had come, ate the milk and cookies we had left for him, and dropped off our gifts. Everytime one of my teeth fell out, I’d wrap it in paper and leave it under my pillow and go fast asleep. Next morning, sure enough, the tooth was gone and a nice shiny coin lay there under my pillow.
I’m not 4 yrs old anymore, at some point as a child, my parents stopped pretending Santa was eating our cookies, stopped pretending the tooth fairy was giving me money, and so I no longer had a rational reason for believing in either of them.
I wonder, one day, will everyone grow up?
lol…I applaud your arrogance in thinking that we are all children. I am happy for you that you can reduce the world to santa clause and the tooth fairy. It’s a good deal more complicated than that. You might be right in the end, but I suspect you are not, and furthermore, a life lived in faith can be more enriching than any you will encounter. The Buddha and countless others, all much wiser than I seem to point to a better way of living. It must however, be quite nice to think yourself so much smarter than the wisest sage of yesterday or today. Blessings on your journey, for believe it or not, you are on one.
No arrogance was intended in my comment, we are all children in our own way. I suspect you and I just approach the unknown or mysterious in a different way, but if the material we have from the Buddha is accurate, then I’d argue his philosphy is closer to mine than yours. IMO.
“Believe nothing on the faith of traditions,
even though they have been held in honor
for many generations and in diverse places.
Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.
Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.
Do not believe what you yourself have imagined,
persuading yourself that a God inspires you.
Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.
After examination, believe what you yourself have tested
and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.”
What exactly do you conceive Nirvana to be? It will not fit into a natural only world I can assure you. No doubt we can both use the above remarks to our own purposes. I can agree fully with what is said with no damage to my own faith. Funny how that works out.
My point was just the Buddha realized it was useless and pointless to ponder what lies beyond the natural, whether Gods or Demons. His world was an inherently natural world, if it wasn’t his teachings wouldn’t make much sense. I doubt if he would have been commited to a two millenia old doctrine of superstition, but again, just my opinion. I just feel superstition should always be subject to intense criticism.
I think the Buddha suggested many things that are not inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. Read Thiche Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ.
By the way, you should try carrot and orange soup, its delicious! 🙂
There is a general mistake trying to apply logic to faith.
Faith is a system of the mind, like morality, rationality, the I and others.
It’s simply a mistake to suppose that evolution is logic, it’s the fruit of the necessity of survival together with ambient conditions that were in great measure casual, over a long time. Logic is a sub product of rationality, faith is a system at same level of rationality, probably nested deeper into the limbic brain as it’s ancient than consciousness and rationality.
We have systems over imposed one on another, exactly like our back spine is a critical structure cause is coming from quadruped posture.
It’s sounds even strange u can’t apply logical understanding to the phylogenesis of mind and as consequence not to fight with different aspects of it.
Individually humans have different preponderance of the different systems: your faith system is weaker of others, mine too..
But faith is essential to do things, even the great realizations of lay science and tech are made with great contribution of faith…
Thanks, sorry for my english..
Your english is fine. I’m not sure I’m following you though. I don’t think I contend that evolution is logical. I think it is in part simple luck that a particular gene mutates, then the rigours of survival determine its success or failure.
Faith to me is a logical deduction of what is as to what rationally can be a cause when none can be empirically shown. I don’t mean to imply that no other conclusion is possible, indeed the opposite, only that it is a rational deduction much as some other conclusion might be.